MGM // 1990 // 120 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // December 5th, 2011
Prepare for Tom Selleck's epic mustache in the old westÉ western Australia that is.
Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck, Blue Bloods) leaves the U.S. and heads out to Australia to answer a want ad. Seems that Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) is looking for the best long distance sharpshooter in the world to help him on his ranch. When Quigley arrives he quickly gets on the wrong side of Marton's men and picks up the aptly named Crazy Cora (Laura San Giacomo, Havoc). Cora is convinced that Quigley is named Roy and that she's still wandering around the American prairie.
Marston reveals that he actually hired Quigley to help him take care of the aborigine problem around his land, and Quigley refuses (by tossing Marston through a window). Needless to say this turns Quigley and Cora into targets. Prepare for a classic style western in a untraditional setting, with plenty of horses as well as kangaroos.
Released two years before Clint Eastwood released Unforgiven and essentially made it impossible for anyone to make a non-bleak Western, you'd think Quigley Down Under would still be remembered fondly. On the surface it's hard to see why this movie is often forgotten when modern Westerns are mentioned.
The three leads are excellent in their roles. Selleck was born to play a character like Quigley. He embodies everything you imagine about a rough and tumble cowboy with a heart of gold. San Giacomo is pitch perfect as Crazy Cora, providing some comic relief as well as a love interest for the film. Rickman is playing a slightly toned down version of his infamous Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Marston may be a little less colorful, but he's just as full of himself.
You've also got some excellent action scenes, with may favorite coming near the end where Quigley escapes a burning building and some of Marston's goons. The scenery is gorgeous showing off some beautiful vistas of Australian outback. To top it off Basil Poledouris provides a full bodied old school western score full of nods to the classics of the genre, and adding a touch of Australia when needed.
So what's the problem here? It's difficult to say. Quigley Down Under should work, and yet I was never entirely pulled into it. Part of this is the tone of the film. One minute it feels almost like a parody of a Western, with some of the lines and scenes going a bit over the top (and Poledouris' score giving it a helping push). Other times, the movie gets deadly serious, especially dealing with the very real racism and destruction of the Aborigines. This flip flopping makes it hard to figure out what kind of a movie you're really watching. Should I laugh at Crazy Cora's antics or feel sorry for her when we learn her sad story? Things seem to even out when the humor is toned down a bit and we get into the more action oriented second half of film.
MGM's Blu-ray is a standard port of the original release over to the high def format. The 2.35:1/1080p image looks pretty good. There is some film grain visible and as well as a bit of softness in some scenes. The DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio works well enough, though the score comes through a bit loud at times and drowns out the dialogue. The same mini-documentary is ported over from the standard def release, as well as the television and theatrical trailers.
Quigley Down Under has a lot going for it, and fans of the main cast should certainly check it out. But the shifting tone keeps me from recommending it more than a rental first.
Not guilty, mate.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* TV Promos